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The Dow is set to open 140 points lower, but is still on track for its best month since 1987

CNBC logo CNBC 11/29/2020 Fred Imbert

Stock futures fell early Monday as investors looked set to cash in some of the historically strong gains logged in November.

Futures on the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 150 points, or 0.5%. The move implied an opening loss of about 145 points. Meanwhile, S&P 500 futures lost 0.3%. Nasdaq 100 futures traded slightly higher.

Futures took a leg down after Reuters reported that the Trump administration is weighing blacklisting Chinese leading chipmaker SMIC as well as national offshore oil and gas producer CNOOC. The move would limit their access to American investors and escalate tensions with China before President-elect Joe Biden takes over.

Those losses were trimmed, however, after Moderna said Monday that new trial data showed its Covid-19 vaccine candidate was more than 94% effective. The company added it plans to ask the Food and Drug Administration for emergency clearance later in the day.

Despite the move lower, major equity averages are poised to wrap up a strong month.

The blue-chip Dow has risen 12.9% so far this month, on pace for its best monthly performance since January 1987, as promising vaccine developments boosted confidence of a smooth economic reopening. The S&P 500 and the Nasdaq have climbed 11.3% and 11.9%, respectively, in November, both on track to post their biggest monthly advance since April.

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Cyclical sectors, those most economically sensitive groups, have led the market's November rally amid a slew of positive vaccine news. Energy, 2020's biggest loser, has jumped 33.8% this month, while financials, industrials and materials have all gained at least 13% during this period.

Small caps have been on a tear this month as investors piled into beaten-down value names. The Russell 2000 has rallied 20.6% so far in November, on track for its best month ever.

"This rally has been notable as the rotation from Growth to Value has continued to gain momentum despite the negative news flow of Covid cases surging around the country and lockdowns again being imposed in various parts of the nation," said Chris Zaccarelli, chief investment officer at Independent Advisor Alliance.

The market is coming off a record-setting holiday week that saw the 30-stock Dow surge past the 30,000 milestone for the first time. The benchmark has since dipped below the threshold. The S&P 500 and the Nasdaq both closed Friday at fresh record highs.

Still, investors continue to monitor the coronavirus pandemic which has killed more than 266,000 people in the U.S. Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation's top infectious disease expert, said on Sunday that the U.S. is heading into a tough period of the pandemic in which restrictions and travel advisories will be necessary.

Los Angeles County in California imposed a new stay-home order Friday as cases surged in the nation's most populous county. Meanwhile, New York City public schools will begin to reopen on Dec.7.

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